I totally agree with William Leap. This is very good and makes total sense to me as I have worked with these men professionally for 23 years. I would meet these men as a single gay man during sexual hookups. Gay men cannot deny men like Craig who are straight but act gay exist as they have all been with one at one time or another.
For men, 'straight' label is inflexible
BY J. PEDER ZANE, The News & Observer
Consider this: Almost half of all men who have sex with other men in public bathrooms consider themselves straight, according to William Leap, a professor of anthropology at American University, who has studied this behavior since the early 1990s.
"They insist, 'I'm not gay, I'm not homosexual, I'm straight,' " Leap told me. "The general description for these guys is they are married and they often talk about these encounters as recreational -- fun, excitement, a break from the long workday."
One man told Leap that the encounters offered "dangerous excitement" in contrast to his emotionally dull second marriage. Another man said he would stop off at a known cruising spot after work, have sex, then pick up a quart of milk before returning home to his wife and kids. "It was almost like a scheduled activity he had in his day planner," Leap said.
A complex continuum
Leap, who edited the essay collection "Public Sex, Gay Space," agreed that most people would conclude these men are gay -- a view he described as overly simplistic. For starters, he said, that judgment defines these men by one aspect of their behavior, discounting, for example, their lives with their wives. It also presumes that society's general assumptions about how straight men should act are more accurate than their own conceptions of themselves as heterosexuals. Finally, Leap said, it defines homosexuality exclusively in terms of sex.
"Being gay is not just a sexual position," he said. "It also involves a self-acceptance and a public declaration, a willingness to to say 'I am gay' and to make that clear to one's self. Perhaps these men are in denial, but if we just write them off as closeted or repressed, we limit our understanding of what straightness might entail."
I wasn't completely convinced. The taboos on homosexual activity are so strong that, it seems, only powerful urges could impel men to cross that line. At heart, it must be something they feel they must do to satisfy a fundamental need.
The issue, Leap countered, is not whether these men are gay but the constricted ways American society views straight male behavior. The rest of the population -- women and gay men -- are not bound by the one drop rule.
Few would suggest, for example, that a self-identified gay man who sleeps with women on occasion is secretly straight. Or consider the images of young women making out with each other in the "Girls Gone Wild" videos. I don't know anybody who immediately concludes that they are lesbians. Show people videos of men kissing, and people will instantly say they are gay.